Succession to the Crown Bill
Church of England Briefing - Succession to the Crown
The Government's Succession to the Crown Bill will receive its
2nd Reading and complete its remaining stages in the
House of Commons on Tuesday 22nd January 2013.
This Government and the previous Government have consulted
closely with senior Church of England figures throughout the long
process which has led up to the introduction of this Bill.
In a speech in the House of Lords during debate on the Queen's
speech on 14th May 2012, the then Bishop of Blackburn
said: "the references in the humble Address to reform of the
rules of royal succession are sensible and timely. I know I speak
for all on these Benches when I say that we wish the Government
well in their present consultations with the other Commonwealth
realms. We look forward to and hope that it will then be possible
for the necessary Bill to pass quickly through both Houses of
Clause 1 - Succession to the Crown not to depend on
The move to amend the rules of succession, to enable the first
born child of any person in line to the throne to take their place
in the line of succession regardless of gender, is welcome.
Clause 2 - Removal of disqualification arising from
marriage to a Roman Catholic
For the Church of England the key issue is the current statutory
requirement that the Sovereign join in communion with the Church of
England. The Bill leaves that unchanged. Future Sovereigns will
therefore continue to be able to take their place as Supreme
Governor of the Established Church.
The present prohibition on anyone remaining in the line of
succession or succeeding to the Crown as a result of marrying a
Roman Catholic is not necessary to support the requirement that the
Sovereign join in communion with the Church of England. Its
proposed removal is a welcome symbolic and practical measure
consistent with respect for the principle of religious liberty. It
reflects the sea change in ecumenical relations over recent
The proposal in clause 2(2) that the new position should apply
retrospectively to marriages that took place before the new
provision comes into force is also welcome.
Other Clauses - Consent of Sovereign required to certain
Royal Marriages etc.
There are no Church of England concerns about the timely and
helpful reforms in clause 3 to the requirement for the consent of
the Sovereign to certain Royal Marriages or to the remaining
provisions of the Bill.
The use of fast-tracking procedures is acceptable for the
reasons outlined by the Government in its explanatory notes to the
The text of the Bill, explanatory notes and details about its
parliamentary progress can be viewed on the UK Parliament website